Spencer ★★★★

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been on a Visconti kick lately that this thought crossed my mind, but I’m inclined to believe this sort of plays out exactly like one of his late masterworks—an strictly atmospheric exercise in the meaning of artifice and images as shifting hierarchies, as excessive as its own subject and speaking from its own privileges, divorced from its very specific historical context while simultaneously feeding on its iconography and the indelible print it has on the public consciousness; a modern fairy tale, a ghost story. Think of Sandringham House as some sort of more refined Von Essenbeck’s Manor from The Damned, in which the thorough scrutinies of the aristocracy towards the “not-fitted” are deflected back at them through passive-aggresive acts of social terrorism, gestures and micro-aggressions loud as bombs, again, coming from their own position of privilege. It’s not that Diana suffers, because for Larraín—and most likely the viewer too—she has already endured so much of both ends of the spectrum of public image, scrutinized to the point of morbidity and bad faith as well as mystified into the status of people’s martyr. No, for me, it’s instead about her reclaiming her agency in the midst of this oppression of keeping up tradition, protocol and appereances by disrupting those same foundations of image, for image is everything in the nobility—currency for an empire, its very meaning. Reading too much into it? Perhaps, but even if I’m wrong I’m still left with this quasi-Gothic meandering through a broken psyche that dismantles every single gesture of melodrama into complete stillness, overblown into a shell of its former self.

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